Some people find medical cannabis helpful for chronic pain, especially in the short term, but there are questions about long-term effectiveness and safety. Cannabis wasn’t recommended by Mayo Clinic when I attended their Pain Rehabilitation Center in 2018 nor is it recommended by the International Association for the Study of Pain.
A new systematic review and meta-analysis published November 28, 2022, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests cannabis is no better at relieving pain than a placebo. And relying on any sort of passive treatment like medicines and supplements can create dependence on the agent - producing a sense of helplessness and reminding the user of the pain.
I have found I don’t need medicine or supplements to manage my chronic pain. Of course, your experience may differ. I know mine did earlier in my pain journey. My relief came by changing how I think about, feel about, and behave around the pain with pain rehabilitation using self-management.
Back pain can be scary, especially when an MRI finds something abnormal. While they can seem scary, structural findings on a diagnostic scan don’t always equate with pain or are the cause of the pain.
Abnormal MRI findings are normal in people without pain, especially as age increases. Over 50% of 30-year-olds with no pain show signs of disk degeneration increasing up to 80% at age 50 (Brinjikji, et al, 2015).
And although chronic back pain is a common medical complaint, no specific cause is found in up to 85% of cases with central sensitization as a potential contributing factor (Sanzarello, et al, 2016) along with fear of pain and activity as maintaining factors.
Remember, all pain is biopsychosocial contributors Research has found that "when individuals with low back pain consider they have a flare, they do not always have greater than average pain, but have worse psychosocial features" (Costa, et al, 2021).
Check out these back facts from OSullivan, et al, 2020:
Tom Bowen is a chronic pain patient who turned into an advocate, educator, and collaborator.
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